Scientists work on egg replacements, but should manufacturers stick with the real thing?
- New egg replacements are being developed in response to increasing consumer demand; egg allergies; and efforts by the baked goods industry to cut production costs, manage risk and stabilize supply, according to Food Business News.
- Dried, frozen or liquid forms of whole eggs and individual yolks and whites are relatively inexpensive. Eggs, on the other hand, are traditionally among the most expensive ingredients in baked goods — and prices can be volatile. While eggs are currently the cheapest they've been in a decade, there's an oversupply because of flock expansion after the 2015 avian flu crisis.
- Egg replacements work well in some baked goods, but for others — particularly angel food cake, certain pie fillings, cheesecake and sugar cookies — recent studies funded by the American Egg Board found that the real thing still delivers on taste, texture, flavor, mouthfeel, height and structure.
Egg replacements available in the marketplace today are made from ingredients including soy, flaxseed, potato starch, tapioca flour, chia seeds and garbanzo beans. Some have similar functionality to eggs as far as binding, moisture or bulk are concerned, but can fall short in other important areas.
Eggs provide more than 20 desirable functions for baked goods — from foaming to ingredient binding to thickening — and it's difficult for any substitute ingredient to adequately perform all of those.
“Besides for nutritive value, egg ingredients provide important functional properties to baked goods,” Bill Gilbert, principal food technologist for Cargill, told Food Business News. “It’s impossible to replace eggs with any single ingredient and still provide similar nutrition and function."
Nevertheless, there are food industry upstarts willing to give it a shot. One is Hampton Creek, whose long-awaited Just Scramble eggless liquid replacement product is finally scheduled to roll out next year.
Another approach is available through a citrus fiber egg replacement product from Fiberstar Inc. It has a high pectin content and can be used to extend eggs rather than fully replace them.
Egg replacements are pasteurized and have a longer shelf life than eggs, but right now, they are also more expensive. However, it's a safe bet that vegans and others who prefer to avoid all animal-based food items are willing to pay the typically higher cost. Plus, switching over to egg substitutes gives manufacturers some level of protection for when the next avian influenza outbreak impacts supply.
- Food Business News Finding the best replacement for eggs